Real estate agents stay busy in a hot market like this one, but they can always make time for important causes they support.
For Ann Ciardullo, one-half of the Ciardullo Green team at Sotheby’s International Realty, that is The Ellen Hermanson Foundation, which is committed to helping breast cancer patients and their families on the East End. Now the vice president of the board, she became involved with the foundation about 10 years ago after attending several fundraising events — most know its famous Ellen’s Run race held annually for 26 years.
“Why I got involved was because of what I learned about where the money raised by the foundation goes,” Ciardullo explains in a recent conversation with Behind The Hedges.
“So many fundraisers in the Hamptons send the money along to a national organization. The money that the Ellen Hermanson Foundation raises stays here to help people in this diverse community,” she continues. “As we all know, many people in the Hamptons community, even upon getting a difficult diagnosis, need very little help here. They are New Yorkers and live among the finest medical institutions on earth. But there is another community of people out here who desperately need help and financial support … especially during a challenging time. These are the people that Julie founded the foundation to serve.”
Julie Ratner, to whom Ciardullo is referring, founded the organization in 1996 with her sister Emily Levin, in honor of their younger sister, Ellen Hermanson, who died from breast cancer in 1995 at the age of 42. Over the last 25 years, the foundation has distributed more than $4 million in grants and created the Ellen Hermanson Breast Center at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital.
With Ratner leading as the chairwoman, the foundation ensures no patient is turned away from the breast center due to lack of insurance or an inability to pay for treatment. All support services though Ellen’s Well, a program funded by the foundation and administered by the Southampton Hospital Foundation, are provided free of charge.
Ciardullo has been on the South Fork since 1995, since moving from Westchester, where she began her career in real estate in 1979. Since joining Sotheby’s Bridgehampton brokerage in 2006, she teamed up with her parter in life, Keith Green. The couple, who live in East Hampton, earned a place among National Realty Trust’s top 1% of 59,000 agents and achieved the title of global real estate advisors.
“I bring passion and energy to everything I do. But it is a pleasure to bring ‘my best’ to every board meeting because I am proud to serve with a group of people who each bring their unique experiences and capabilities together to serve this important cause,” she says. “Every single one of them is passionate about our mission — not a single person just lends their name. In some ways, the greatest thing Julie accomplished is assembling a serious and hardworking board. Our meetings often include fierce debate, but why not? Our work makes a real difference in the lives we touch.”
The foundation does much good work on the East End, and when asked to point to something she was particularly proud of, Ciardullo points to the creation of the breast center a few years ago.
“The center offers a wide spectrum of breast health services, including education, early detection screenings and cancer treatment and support. The center utilizes state-of-the-art diagnostic techniques, including computer-assisted mammography, ultrasound and a breast biopsy system that locates breast abnormalities and obtains tissue samples.”
Satellite diagnostic services are also located in East Hampton and Hampton Bays.
As Breast Cancer Awareness Month draws to a close, this message, of course, rings true: “The importance of breast screenings is paramount in recognizing any abnormalities in your breast, so regular screenings are a must,” Ciardullo says.
“But people hear that from every corner of the medical world. What matters to me, and why I am so proud to support Julie and the foundation, is that we will not allow women to face their fears alone. The foundation will be at their side … every step of the way … at every moment we can make a difference. Newly diagnosed women will find an open hand, an open purse and a caring heart when they reach out for our help. The foundation is the living, breathing extension of Julie Ratner’s mind, passion and heart.”